About ten percent of the world population has restless leg syndrome (RLS), also known as Willis-Ekbom Disease. This extremely uncomfortable and sometimes painful condition is, therefore, relatively common. Yet, the medical community seems to not know a whole lot about it, let alone how to treat it, meaning that many sufferers feel incredibly hopeless about ever experiencing true relief.
However, we are now beginning to see studies suggesting that CBD may be able to help combat the effects of this annoying condition. This has a lot to do with its unique effects on the body’s endocannabinoid system that manages, among other things, the neurological system.
So, can CBD actually be the first legitimate treatment for Restless Leg Syndrome?
Before we get into that question, we need to look deeper into what RLS is, what causes it, and how it affects the body. This way, we can understand why cannabidiol may be the answer to those desperate for a treatment.
Basics on Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS)
Anyone who does not suffer from restless leg syndrome struggles to understand exactly what the condition feels like, as it doesn’t primarily involve pain as many chronic conditions do. Those who have restless leg syndrome have a feeling of restlessness along their legs, which has to do with the way in which the nerves operate. Because of this annoying, uncomfortable sensation, the sufferer feels the urge to shake their legs repeatedly. Also, they may find that they involuntarily jerk their legs as a reflex due to the discomfort of the sensation. The legs may jerk and twitch sporadically, which means that a person’s sleep may be disturbed.
In fact, symptoms tend to worsen when a person is laying down, such as when they are going to bed. They may also worsen when a person is sitting still as opposed to walking around.
Restless Leg Syndrome affects more women than it does men, and it can develop at any age. Because of the way in which it can interfere with a person’s ability to fall asleep, it can lead to sleep deprivation which comes with its own risks.
Why Restless Leg Syndrome Develops
Unfortunately, the medical community does not know the exact cause of restless leg syndrome. Currently, it is believed that certain genetic factors can make it more likely that a person will develop the condition at some point during their life. In other words, if a person has at least one parent with the condition, they are more likely to develop it themselves, although the condition may not begin showing signs until adulthood.
There are other factors that may contribute to RLS.
1. It is believed that this condition may have to do with faulty dopamine receptors in the brain.
2. Additionally, Parkinson’s Disease sufferers may be at higher risk of developing the condition.
3. Those who abuse certain substances like alcohol and nicotine may be at a higher risk due to the way in which these substances interfere with neurological function.
4. Conditions like anemia, and use of certain medications, may contribute to the development of restless leg syndrome.
Symptoms of Restless Leg Syndrome
Restless Leg Syndrome does not have many symptoms. The only main symptom is a restless sensation in the legs that causes the suffer to shake or involuntarily jerk their legs. However, a person may develop pain due to the constant use of the joints when shaking or jerking. Also, another symptom may be sleep deprivation due to the fact that it can be difficult to fall asleep due to this sensation.
How Can Doctors Diagnose Restless Leg Syndrome?
Doctors diagnose RLS based on asking a series of questions to a patient. There is no official diagnostic method that can be used. In other words, this condition will not show up on an MRI or in bloodwork. A doctor or physician may wish to rule out nerve damage.
How Doctors Treat Restless Leg Syndrome
Restless Leg Syndrome is typically treated using medications that address the symptoms, not the cause. For instance, a doctor may prescribe muscle relaxers that slow down nerve activity in the legs. They may also prescribe sleep medications.
CBD and Restless Leg Syndrome: A Potential Treatment?
We are now seeing that CBD is being tested as a possible treatment for RLS.
- Study #1: CBD seems to work directly with the brain’s dopamine receptors which seem to play some type of role in this condition. It has the potential to regulate dopamine production in a way that can calm down the nerves in the legs.
- Study #2: Researchers have found that the nerves in the legs have cannabinoid receptors, meaning that they respond to cannabinoid intake from CBD. These receptors require cannabinoids in order to regulate the function of the systems that they occupy. In other words, taking CBD may help regulate the way in which the nerves in the legs operate so that the patient can finally achieve bliss from their symptoms.
- Study #3: CBD can also help a person fall asleep more easily despite the effects of the condition. This is because it seems to regulate production of melatonin and serotonin, two neurotransmitters that are responsible for helping us sleep. Cannabidiol is frequently used as a sleep aid due to its effects on the neurotransmitters and its ability to potentially calm the body and the mind.
CBD, The Endocannabinoid System and Restless Leg Syndrome
The endocannabinoid system is a large bodily system that is in charge of homeostasis. It requires cannabinoids, and it sends these cannabinoids to different receptors throughout the body. When these cannabinoids bond with these receptors, they can regulate the function of certain bodily processes.
Therefore, it is possible that taking CBD can help regulate function of the nerves throughout the body, including the ones in the legs, thanks to the unique and crucial function of the body’s endocannabinoid system.
Taking CBD as a Potential Treatment for Restless Leg Syndrome
So, do you want to try taking CBD to see if it can help with RLS? If so, there are some things that you need to know first.
1. It’s crucial that you buy high-quality CBD, as this is largely an unregulated industry at the moment. In other words, lots of CBD products are on the market that are not potent or pure, and therefore, they don’t do much to help.
2. Once you have found the right CBD product, you must take it daily. This is because CBD has to accumulate in the system before providing the full potential of effects.
4. Also, do not be afraid to increase your dose gradually as needed, as CBD is nontoxic.
Restless Leg Syndrome is a tremendously aggravating condition that is pretty common, yet widely misunderstood. Those who have felt helpless about finding proper treatment for this condition may be interested to explore the potential effects of CBD.